Heading into its first home match of the season, it's already been a very exciting week for the IPFW men's volleyball team.
Playing at the UC-Santa Barbara Invitational for the first time in 12 years, the Volleydons finished fifth after beating No. 15 California Baptist on Saturday. That came after splitting Friday's exhibition matches with wins against No. 2 UCLA and No. 14 Cal State-Northride and losses against No. 4 Long Beach State and No. 14 UC- San Diego.
IPFW coach Arnie Ball played his starters in the three wins and the reserves in the two losses.
"The whole point to going to that tournament was to see how these kids matched up against some of the top competition in the country,'' Ball said. "Even in the losses, we were competitive.''
Sophomore Andy Sellan made the all-tournament team, which is impressive because he's switching from opposite to outside hitter this season.
It was also a challenge coming home, as IPFW's plane was one of only two that landed in Indianapolis on Monday, Ball said. He said the bus ride home took more than three hours.
The Volleydons were rewarded for their weekend work Monday with a No. 15 ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. It's the first time the squad has been ranked since March 3, 2008, when it was ranked 15th for two consecutive weeks.
"These kids deserve congratulations for accomplishing something like that,'' Ball said. "Now it's about seeing if we can build off that. The other thing about receiving an honor like that is that it puts a target on your back, and we'll get everybody's best effort. We need to respond to that.''
The first test is at 7 p.m. Friday at Hilliard Gates Sports Center against unranked Sacred Heart, which is led by junior outside hitter Enzo Mackenzie.